Let us pray: Dear Lord Christ, as we once again hear of Your transfiguration where You briefly allowed Your eternal glory to shine forth while on this earth, we also long to see it and experience it—just as Peter and the other disciples did. We long to remain in Your glorious presence and have all our fears and failings recede into nothingness. Lord, allow us to experience such blessed inner peace by gazing deeply into Your transfiguring Word of truth, for it is only there that we will discover You. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE LORD OF TRANSFIGURING GLORY!
TEXT: 2 Peter 1: 16-21
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
St. Paul writes that “we see through a glass darkly” in this life. That is, God’s glory and majesty are hidden from our sight and the prism of temporal existence, muddied by our sin-darkened hearts, obscures His glorious reality from our view. And so we are forced to put up with jobs that don’t satisfy, with weather either too hot or too cold which makes us grumpy, with people who often seem to have ulterior motives, and with our own frail bodies which get tired at the worst moment and unfocus our lives. Paul also felt such conflicted emotions and yet, in the end, he turned back to the only source of genuine comfort, as when he also wrote: “Wretched man that I am, who can save me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”
As an old man, St. Peter, also viewed his life through a glass darkly. And yet, to pull himself out of the mire of moroseness, Peter went back in time. His memory of being with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration and seeing and feeling the glory that is just a hair-breath away, that image gave Peter the power not to give up on life, on himself, or on God. The truth he had witnessed on that mountaintop sustained him throughout his life, for thereby he knew what awaited him. And so he writes: “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.”
O to see such things! O to have our faith verified by such images! O to escape the mundane existence we live in day after day! O to bask in the certainty of God’s love for us amidst a world gone mad! Can we, too, experience transfiguration? Can our lives also be changed into unrestrained joy, even while we’re stuck here on planet earth? The answer is: yes! And in the rest of the words of our lesson, Peter explains exactly how. And so, as we study this lesson, we’ll discover an answer to this question:
WHERE DO I FIND TRANSFIGURATION TODAY?
In ancient times, plain, ordinary lead was a common mineral. It was so common that it wasn’t worth much. But gold, gold was uncommon and thus precious and sought after. And so, the ancient alchemists spent hundreds of years trying to find a way to change, to transfigure, lead into gold. Of course, all their attempts failed.
Do you feel golden, or leaden? I’m serious. When you’re young and healthy, you’re bored with life. When you get your fondest wish and “grow up” you’re conflicted about your purpose in living.—Should I get married? Is this the right person for me? Does my job really satisfy? Am I turning into my parents? Then, when you reach your 50’s again conflict rears its ugly head.—Will I ever retire? Am I just going through the motions of life? Am I just putting in my time? When old age finally comes, worry and more conflicts arise.—Have I done enough in my life to really make a mark? My body hurts. Old age is breaking me down. The fear of a rest home begins to invade your psyche. Let’s face it, life is leaden.
So, how do we become golden? How can we be transformed and transfigured? Where does true and lasting joy really come from? Peter says it all. It comes from Christ! It comes from His Godly majesty which He gives to us in the form of pure love. Love that gives and gives and never runs out. Love that forgives the unforgivable. Love which reorders our priorities. Love which works faith in our hearts. Love which showed itself when He willingly died on a cross to save us from eternal leadenness!
Even Christians lose sight of clinging to Christ alone in order to become golden. Sometimes we put our faith in the amount of our offerings or in the regularity of putting them in the collection plate. Sometimes we put our faith in going through the motions every Sunday. Sometimes we play the comparison game of weighing our lives with the lives of other people and concluding: “My labors are more holy than theirs, so obviously I deserve God’s blessing more than they do.” In all of those scenarios our gaze is really upon us and not upon Christ, isn’t it? My friends, it is not human goodness or achievements or Christian works that transfigure us and make us golden. It is Christ alone!
St. Peter knew that because he had seen the golden Christ on that Mt. of Transfiguration. And Peter retained and experienced transfiguration, even in old age, because by God’s grace, he looked for it and found it anew in God’s Holy Word, in the Bible. For the Bible contains Christ. Christ wrote it. Christ is the chief character in it. And His golden perfection comes through it alone. “For it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.” Yes, the Bible can and does and will transfigure our lives today by removing the veil that separates us from glory!
“And we have the word of the prophets made more certain (than our vision on the mountaintop), and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns (judgment day) and the morning star (final glory) rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophesy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophesy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
The Bible is not hard to understand. It does not have 6 different meaning behind every verse. Its truths are not to be cast aside with those familiar words: “Well, that’s just your interpretation.” God is not a God of chaos. His Word is not chaotic, either. For there is one Spirit intended meaning contained in each section of the Bible. Truth is truth. Once you realize that fact, you’ll begin to discover Christ behind all those verses you skipped over before. Enlightenment will grow. Discovery will take place. And the unified Truth of the Bible—that God transforms our lives by His forgiveness and love found in Christ, alone, that truth will begin to pulse through you! The veil separating earth from heaven will be torn aside. You will be able to rise above the leadenness of life because Christ’s shining goldenness will be reflected in and through you!
So, where do I find transfiguration today? Look to God’s living Word and behold your Savior Who seeks to give it to you! Amen